Tuesday, June 10, 2008

state of the arts san francisco style

If you considered yesterday's SF Arts Town hall the barometer for the health of the arts community in San Francisco, you'd have to agree we are one of the more dynamic & tenacious bunch of creatives in the nation. With representatives from just about EVERY organization there is in the Bay Area (and beyond), it made for a vibrant, conversation filled day at The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on topics ranging from "Survival," to "Reach," "Creativity" and "Impact." One of the best moments came at the outset of the event, when John Killacky, the Program Officer of Arts & Culture at The San Francisco Foundation asked audience members how long their organization has been operating. With answers from 49 years (SF Mime Troupe) to 101 years (Cal Performances) and everything else in between, the collective potential to create real change, commented upon by the moderators, was palpable. Calls for increased collaboration were voiced, and the opinion that "engagement is our future" expressed. I loved both running into a slew of people I've met over the years, a round-table discussion about Cultural Facilities & Live/Work Spaces led by ArtHouse and left with a reminder shared by Oakland East Bay Symphony Conductor Michael Morgon: "You must decide and constantly rethink what you do and for whom."

That said, I left before the closing to make it to one my favorite associations, a loose, very grassroots song collective that migrated from NYC and of which I've been a part of for the past few years — a group of songwriters who share both a home-cooked meal and our latest song. It was an especially stellar night — I would have paid for the show—everyone was on form but special shout-out go to Lisa Mandelstein, Alex Walsh and Wendy Beckerman. I went home feeling privileged and inspired.

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